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Dr Claire Gillan


Claire completed a BA in Psychology at University College Dublin before starting her PhD in Psychology at University of Cambridge in 2009 under the supervision of Professor Trevor Robbins. Here, she revealed that patients with Obsessive‐Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have a tendency to form habits excessively in a series of innovative laboratory studies. Following a successful viva in 2013, Claire was awarded an MRC Centenary Postdoctoral Fellowship to carry out an investigation of the neural basis of these habit biases in OCD. Claire Gillan is currently a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow based jointly at New York University (NYU) and University of Cambridge. Claire was listed as one the top 30 thinkers under 30 by the Pacific Standard in 2014. Her research has featured in numerous media outlets including Scientific American, New Scientist and in two BBC documentaries.  

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

Claire leverages computational modeling and large‐scale online data collection to identify trans‐diagnostic markers of psychiatric disturbances. Under the mentorship of Nathaniel Daw and Elizabeth Phelps, this data‐driven methodology has already been used to reveal psychiatric traits that are more reliable and have greater neurocognitive significance than the existing DSM diagnostic categories. The ultimate goal of this basic work is to develop an evidence‐based, dimensional framework for understanding psychopathology. 

Key Publications

Gillan, C. M., Apergis-Schoute, A., Morein-Zamir, S., Urcelay, G. P., Sule, A., Fineberg, N. A., Sahakian, B. J., Robbins, T. W. (2014). Functional neuroimaging of avoidance habits in OCD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(3), 284-93. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14040525.

Gillan, C.M., Morein-Zamir, S., Urcelay, G.P., Sule, A., Voon, V., Apergis-Schoute, A., Fineberg, N.A., Sahakian, B.J., Robbins, T.W. (2014). Enhanced avoidance habits in obsessive-compulsive disorder.Biological Psychiatry, 75(8), 631-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.02.002

Gillan, C. M., Morein-Zamir, S., Kaser, M., Fineberg, N. A., Sule, A., Sahakian, B. J., Cardinal, R., Robbins, T. W. (2014). Counterfactual decision-making in obsessive-compulsive disorder: further evidence for impaired goal-directed control. Biological Psychiatry, 75(8), 639-46. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.01.018

Gillan, C. M., Papmeyer, M., Morein-Zamir, S., Sahakian, B. J., Fineberg, N. A., Robbins, T. W., de Wit, S. (2011). Disrupted balance between goal-directed behavior versus habit learning in obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(7), 718-26.